Prodways Group, French manufacturer of the MOVINGLight 3D printing platform, has announced that it has entered into a distribution agreement with Dental Axess, a Swiss provider of software solutions for digital dental manufacturing. Along with strengthening Prodways’ position in its existing markets of North America and Europe, the deal will also expand Prodways’ commercial availability to Australia.
Although the MOVINGLight digital light processing (DLP) system isn’t used solely for dental manufacturing, its particularly high throughput (among other features) has made it ideal for this purpose. Additionally, Prodways also offers the LD Dental Series, which is essentially its MOVINGLight range tweaked and taken up a notch specifically for high-volume dental production. This series also includes the Clear Aligner Ecosystem.
Aside from hearing aids (a market Prodways also has a foot in), dental devices, and especially dental aligners, are probably the most commercially prevalent application of 3D printers, at least at this point in the industry’s history. Moreover, and again, as is the case with hearing aids, the use of 3D printers for dental prosthetics and molds is far in advance of all other commercial uses of the technology thus far. As such, developments in the dental sector can be viewed as potential leading indicators for other sectors in the overall 3D printing industry.
Whether it starts happening more often or not, in the 3D printing industry, the transition of software as a service (SaaS) companies to SaaS companies that also distribute hardware seems to make sense. Primarily, this is because 3D printing has been making a shift in focus to software, akin to what has happened with the PC industry over the last two or three decades. The most obvious difference is that the shift is happening much earlier in 3D printing, presumably in large part because the industry is following a precedent set by PCs.
3D printing hardware companies still have an opportunity, then, to adjust to that reality ahead of time, and to take advantage by making moves like the one Prodways has made here. Perhaps eventually, more SaaS companies can become end-to-end 3D printing services companies — including the distribution of hardware — which would allow hardware manufacturers to focus on scaling up production of machines.
Images courtesy of Prodways
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